Sunday, March 30, 2008

Renewing Time

For thus saith the Lord to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, "Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns." Jeremiah 4:3
These past few days I have been getting my little raised beds ready for plants and seeds. Now, my beds are not very big but I want you to know that I have worked very hard getting things done because it’s spring time and it will soon be time to put those little plants and seed in.

After I had completed one of them I asked myself some questions.
  1. Why am I doing this? Well, the answer was very clear: because I want a harvest.
  2. Is there an easy way to do this? The answer is yes. I could leave all the trash in the beds, along with the weeds and just plant among them, but I know that if I did that I would not see much fruit.
  3. Do I really want to do this? I had a choice to make. I chose to get my beds ready because I wanted those nice red tomatoes and whatever else I plant.
This morning I want to look at getting our hearts ready for spring renewing and planting in the soul.

Let's look at the things I did to get my beds ready for planting:

1. I had to really look at the beds to see what they needed. Now, I want you to know that I pass those beds every day and knew that there were things in them that didn’t belong. Every day I knew that they needed work but I didn’t want to fool with them yet. I would think to myself, "I need to get that done before long." Pallie and I had even talked about the beds from time to time. But knowing and doing something about what is needed are two different things.

We all know that from time to time our hearts need renewing but what are we doing about it? I knew that without renewing the ground by digging it up that I would not have much fruit.

The Hebrew word for renew means "to quicken or to recover from. To revive or to be restored to."
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Psalms 51:10 -11
Though the Lord be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands. Psalms 138:6-8
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; "I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Isaiah 57:15
They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. Hosea 14:7

2. Another part of the process of renewing is cleaning out the beds. So I began by raking out the dead things that had gotten into the beds. Pine needles and pine cones abounded in them because the pine tree had contributed them. Between last year's stacks and Mr. Pine Tree's deposit I had quite a pile of trash.

I realized that there were things growing in my beds that I had not planted there. These weeds were very nice and some even had little flowers on them but they were still weeds.

Brother Easley liked to stop along the road and get wildflowers and bring them home and plant them in his flower beds. Now our flower beds are full of flowering weeds. One day he and Pallie were out on the interstate and he saw some and told her to stop because he saw some that he didn’t have. So she pulled over and he got out and began to pull up these weeds for his bed. He looked up and there came a highway patrolman. The patrolman was very nice and asked if they were having trouble. When Bro. Easley said no, that he was just getting some flowers, the patrolmen said "Did you know it's against the law to do this?"

Brother Easley said, "No! I didn’t."

"Well," said the nice patrolman, "I’m going this way. Have a nice day." As if to say, "I didn’t see you." And he drove away leaving Brother Easley and Pallie breaking the law. And Brother Easley got his weeds!

Now I guess for the flower beds that is okay, but I didn’t need these nice looking weeds in my beds. So they had to go, because I knew that they wouldn’t stay small.

In the parable of the sower Jesus gives a description of what happens when we leave the weeds in our hearts .
And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. Luke 8:7
As I was working digging out the weeds I heard something behind me squeak. I looked and there was the sweetest little baby rabbit you ever saw. In just a minute I found its brother. Now what was I going to do? I am sure they had been born in my flower beds and I didn’t want to hurt them. But what was I going to do with them? I could leave them there and not dig up that part of the bed, but me being the intelligent guy that I am, knew that rabbits like new plants to eat. I knew that if I left them there I would be wasting my time trying to plant my garden. They had to go! So I found a nice flower bed close by to put them in so the mother could find them.

The moral to this story is little things can do lots of damage.
Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. Solomon 2:15
Little things in the heart can do lots of damage if left alone. We need prepare for renewing by asking God to search our hearts.
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
Now the question is: What do I do with things that God will show me when He searches me and reveals things that I don’t need in my heart?

Well, the answer is: Put them out of our hearts. Whether they be bitterness, hurt feelings, or any other thing that will choke my growing ability.

3. Digging up the beds was the next step. I had taken care of the thorns but now the real work would began. I asked myself, "Why can’t I just plant my seeds and plants without digging up the beds?" After all I had gotten rid of anything that would hurt the plants didn’t I?
Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you. Hosea 10:12
Fallow ground is hard ground that hasn’t been used for a while. Before we can sow the seeds of righteousness we have to break the ground. Ground that has not been plowed makes it hard to plant in and it does not let the rain in very deep. So I took the shovel and began to dig and as I dug there were clumps of soil that needed to be broken up. This would mellow the ground so that my plants and seed would be easier to plant. I was also digging up more nutrients and mineral that the plants needed to produce. By doing this the rain could penetrate deeper and give its contribution to the plants.

4. Planting was the next step. I had prepared (renewed) my ground (heart) and now I was ready for seeds and plants. What do I want to grow? What does my heart need?
Sow to yourselves in righteousness. Hosea 10:12
The wicked worketh a deceitful work: but to him that soweth righteousness shall be a sure reward. Proverbs 11:18
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. II Corinthians 9:6
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Galatians 6:7-8
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
How about that kind of seeds?!?

Now that we have our garden plow and planted we can just forget it until the harvest, right? Wrong!
  • We have to be on guard the whole time of growing and harvesting.
  • We may have to run the little rabbits out.
  • We may have to water it. Psalm 126:5 "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy."
  • We will need to cultivate it.
What’s this whole message about? Well, in two weeks it will be "renewing time" here at the church.

It will be time to plow.

  • We need to break up our heart.
    • The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:18
  • We need to break up our spirit
    • The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Psalm 51:17
  • We need to break up our excuses
    • And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, "Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest." And Jesus said unto him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head." And he said unto another, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father." Jesus said unto him, "Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God." And another also said, "Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house." And Jesus said unto him, "No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:57-62
It will be time to plant.
  • You always reap what you sow.
    • Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Galatians 6:7-8
  • You always reap more than you sow.
    • For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: Hosea 8:7
  • It is time to plant.
    • Say not ye, "There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?" behold, I say unto you, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together." John 4:35-36
Let's make plans now to have a good harvest!

When we have plowed and planted we can receive blessing of the harvest. Then we can share with our family and friends what the Lord has done for us.

Let's share some of this with them:
...love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance... Galatians 5:22-23
How bad do you want a garden?

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